Twitter’s free speech seesaw
Twitter has come a long way since it described itself
as “the free speech wing of the free speech party.” That was six years ago, and the idea of giving people unfettered access to say what they want isn’t now quite as appealing as it once was.
The company has struggled for years now to keep a lid on rampant abuse, trolling and spam on its platform. Its latest attempt, which seems to have been given a warm welcome by commentators, will hide anti-social tweets behind a ‘see more tweets’ button.
“Among the signals Twitter will use: whether you tweet at large numbers of accounts you don’t follow, how often you’re blocked by people you interact with, whether you created many accounts from a single IP address, and whether your account is closely related to others that have violated its terms of service.”
This sounds like a good idea, but I do wonder how many legitimate contributions to important debates will get inadvertently buried as a result of the changes. How many people will be misidentified as trolls?
Twitter will no doubt adjust its algorithm if any unintended consequences emerge, but this shows just how much of a balancing act it faces. It’s gone from being 'the free speech wing of the free speech party’ to having to figure out just how much free speech is 'just enough’ free speech.